Enhanced Programme Fund Evaluation 2005
Gray Matter Research Ltd
Table of contents
1. Introduction ............................................................................................................. 1
1.1 The evaluation ................................................................................................. 1
1.2 Evaluation reports ........................................................................................... 1
1.3 This report ....................................................................................................... 2
2. Policy intent and implementation ............................................................................. 3
2.1 Policy intent ..................................................................................................... 3
2.2 Implementation ................................................................................................ 4
2.3 Summary ......................................................................................................... 6
3. The allocation process ............................................................................................ 7
3.1 The allocation process .................................................................................... 7
3.2 Strengths of the allocation process .................................................................. 8
3.3 Problems with the allocation process............................................................... 8
3.4 EPF Advisors ................................................................................................ 10
4. Characteristics of funded schools.......................................................................... 12
4.1 Characteristics of funded schools .................................................................. 12
4.2 Comparison of funded and unfunded schools by sample district ................... 13
4.3 Magnet schools ............................................................................................. 14
5. How funding was used .......................................................................................... 17
5.1 Primary schools ............................................................................................. 17
5.2 Intermediate schools ..................................................................................... 18
5.3 Secondary schools ........................................................................................ 19
5.4 Programmes, systems and processes ........................................................... 21
6. Evidence linking funded programmes to improved achievement ........................... 22
6.1 assessment ................................................................................................... 22
6.2 Outcomes ...................................................................................................... 22
6.3 Elements of good practice ............................................................................. 23
6.4 Effective mechanisms for supporting students in primary and secondary
settings ...................................................................................................................... 25
6.5 Effective programmes and systems in magnet schools ................................. 25
7. Other countries' provisions .................................................................................... 27
7.1 Identifying students with moderate special education needs ......................... 27
7.2 Models of support .......................................................................................... 27
7.3 Magnet schools ............................................................................................. 28
8.0 Discussion......................................................................................................... 29
The Enhanced Programme Fund (EPF) was first offered in 2002 to help eligible schools
enhance, refine or further develop programmes to support the learning of students with
moderate special education needs. The Fund is contestable and is awarded to schools
that can demonstrate they have a disproportionate number of students with moderate
special education need, and have effective programmes already in place to meet those
The EPF has evolved over time. A formative evaluation was commissioned by the Ministry
of Education in 2002 and provided detailed feedback on the allocation processes of 2002,
2003 and 2004. The formative evaluation reports and an annual debriefing process
following each allocation round resulted in refinements being made each year to try to
better match the Fund to policy intent. The evolution of the EPF and the continuous efforts
made by all those involved in the allocation process to ensure the funds were applied
where they were most needed are important features of the context within which this
evaluation report should be read.
1.1 THE EVALUATION
This evaluation had two main components and a range of other requirements. The main
formative feedback on the allocation process to:
o critique the effectiveness and reliability of the allocation process
o identify changes to the allocation process between rounds
o note how schools identify students with moderate special needs and the
implications for the allocation processes
o describe the outcome of the allocation process including a comparison of
successful and unsuccessful schools
o identify issue that arose during the allocation process.
case studies of schools granted EPF to illustrate:
o difficulties schools experience resourcing students' access to the curriculum
o the range of programmes funded and whether some programmes meet
learning needs of students with moderate needs better than others
o how programme success is measured by schools and whether there is
evidence for educational gains from EPF programmes
o informants' perceptions about the effectiveness of EPF.
Other requirements were for the evaluation to provide information on:
the nature of schools applying for EPF and the proportion of moderate special
needs within those schools
a comparison of funded and unfunded schools
a critique of the EPF Advisor role
the relationship of EPF to other GSE initiatives within the learning support network
1.2 EVALUATION REPORTS
This report is a high level summary report of the evaluation. It is supported by seven other
reports, four of them in themselves summaries of more extensive reports that have been
delivered through the life of the evaluation. Three supplementary reports were completed
in 2006 as the Ministry of Education asked the evaluation team to focus more closely on
the concept of magnet schools. The seven reports are:
Summary Report 1: Analysis of the allocation process
Summary Report 2: Summary of case study reports
Summary Report 3: A report on data from four Special Education districts
Summary Report 4: The EPF Advisor role
Supplementary Report 1: Characteristics of EPF Funded schools that attract a
disproportionate number of students with moderate special education needs
Supplementary Report 2: A literature review on international school-based funding
initiatives for students with moderate special education needs
Supplementary Report 3: Questions of interest to the Ministry of Education
1.3 THIS REPORT
The structure of this report is:
Section 2: EPF policy intent and implementation
Section 3: The allocation process
Section 4: Characteristics of funded schools
Section 5: How funding was used
Section 6: Evidence linking funded programmes to achievement
Section 7: Other countries' provisions
Section 8: Discussion
2. Policy intent and implementation
2.1 POLICY INTENT
In 2000, the Government contracted Dr Cathy Wylie to review aspects of the special
education policy framework. The Wylie report1 identified, among other things, resourcing
issues for school that enrol a disproportionate number of students with special education
needs (magnet schools), and observed that population-based resourcing may not in some
cases provide sufficient funding to meet those students' needs.
In October 2001 the Cabinet Social Equity Committee agreed in principle:
. . .that supplementary grants be provided to:
2.1 selected schools that have a disproportionate number of
students with moderate special education need, and as a result
cannot provide a reasonable range and quality of education within
their regular resourcing
2.2 develop and/or maintain special education programmes that
meet quality criteria in those selected schools. (SEQ Min (01) 23/4).
and, that policy guidelines and criteria for identifying and prioritising schools eligible for
such supplementary grants be developed.2
In July 2002 when the first EPF allocation round was already under way, the Ministry of
Education prepared a submission for Ministers which clarified the first policy goal outlined
The provision of EPF grants is to supplement the Special Education
Grant to schools where that grant does not exactly match the
distribution of students who have moderate special education need.3
The submission went on to outline the criteria for deciding school eligibility for EPF. These
were the criteria:
a) A disproportionate number of students with special
education needs as determined under the National Administration
Guideline 1, (iii) a and c;
b) The board of trustees is informed about student need and is
resourcing and supporting a planned process to meet student needs
within the school;
c) The school management team leads an ongoing process for
the identification and provision for the range of student needs within
d) Curriculum implementation meets the specific learning
needs of the full range of students within each class or faculty; and
e) The school can clearly and easily demonstrate improved
Wylie C (2000) Picking up the pieces: Review of Special Education 2000
SEQ Min (01) 23/4.
Submission No: S02/0034
Submission No: S02/0034
In January 2003, a Cabinet Business Committee Paper prepared in support of a request to
increase the funding allocated to EPF in order to appoint EPF Advisors, introduced a new
….The intent of the policy is that these (applicant) schools are
assisted to improve their capability through EPF . . . . 5
In summary then, a review of official documents suggests three key policy goals for EPF.
These are to:
provide extra resources to schools with a disproportionate number of students with
moderate special education need in recognition of the inadequacy of the SEG grant
to develop or maintain special education programmes that meet quality criteria
build school capability.
The tension between these three policy goals, to reward schools with disproportionate
numbers, to develop programmes where they are needed, and to build school capability
has been obvious throughout the life of the EPF.
Meeting need or extending good practice
The first EPF Guidelines produced in May 2002 included an interesting change in
emphasis from that in the policy documents. The intent expressed in the policy documents
that funding should be used to:
. . .develop and/or maintain special education programmes (SEQ
Min (01) 23/4)
in the Guidelines became a statement that:
EPF has been introduced to provide additional assistance to . . .
maintain and/or further develop special education programmes . .
(EPF Guidelines 2002)
This reordering of the words 'develop and/or maintain' to 'maintain and/or further develop'
required schools to already have a programme in place which they considered was worth
extending or developing, and seemed to rule out schools which may have had high need
but did not already have a quality programme in place. This quickly created a difficulty that
endured through the life of the programme and emerged as an issue in every allocation
round – schools with the greatest need often did not have strong programmes in place
which could be enhanced and therefore either did not apply or submitted poor applications
and were unsuccessful.
Students who have special needs and those who are not achieving
'Moderate special education need' has not been defined by the Ministry of Education which
has taken the view that schools themselves are best placed to determine which students
have such needs. In the EPF policy documents students with moderate special education
need are those who fall within National Administration Guideline 1 (iii) (a) 'students who
are not achieving', and NAG 1 (iii) (c) 'students who have special needs'.
The 2002 Guidelines and application form emphasised 'students who have special needs'
by asking schools to provide details on numbers of ORRS funded students, unsuccessful
ORRS applications, students receiving a service through the Severe Behaviour Initiative or
Cabinet Business Paper CBC 03/2 January 2003
Speech Language Initiative, as well as any other students identified under NAG 1. In 2003,
the Guidelines were altered to include advice as to how schools could identify 'students
who are not achieving' using tools like PAT tests, SEA, STAR and asTTle. However, in
2004 this advice was removed and once again the Guidelines and application forms
strongly implied that eligibility would be determined substantially on the basis of numbers
of 'students with special needs', defined as students who accessed other forms of support
for students with special needs. This emphasis was retained in the 2005 Guidelines.
The lack of a common or consistent definition of 'students with moderate special education
need', combined with the quasi-scientific formula by which to determine the proportion of
such students in a school, made it very difficult to have confidence that the schools which
received EPF were indeed the schools that had a 'disproportionate number of students
with moderate special education need', as signified in the policy intent.
The intent of EPF policy was clearly to provide additional resourcing to schools that had a
welcoming environment and/or provided a quality education to students with moderate
special education need. These schools are commonly known as 'magnet schools',
although this term does not survive the early EPF policy papers. The 2001 paper from the
Office of the Minister of Education proposing EPF says this:
Some schools are known as 'magnets' because they enrol a
disproportionate number of students with moderate special
education need. . . . Magnet schools may struggle to meet the needs
of all of their students because of the high proportion of students with
The concept of a magnet is that it draws things to it from beyond a usual range of
influence. In the case of schools, there is a clear implication that magnet schools will enrol
students who pass other, closer schools because of what the magnet school offers them.
However, in none of the allocation rounds was there any exploration of whether applicant
schools drew students from beyond their natural catchment and hence were true magnet
The evaluation detected strong support for magnet schools from those involved in the
allocation process, but difficulties with measuring disproportion, and a fundamental
uncertainty about whether the Fund was designed to meet need or reward good practice
means that that such schools were not necessarily well represented among those funded.
The policy papers are silent on what constitutes 'a special education programme'. The
Cabinet paper of October 2001 directed the Ministry of Education to report by Feb 2002 on
'quality criteria for special education programmes', however this report was not made, and
there appears to be no further mention in policy papers of establishing quality criteria for
The 2002 Guidelines give little indication of what constitutes a special education
programme other than six half-page fictitious scenarios of 'funded' programmes. However,
the application form allowed only three lines for the school to describe the 'plan/
programme/ professional development' it wanted to maintain, refine or develop further.
This 2002 funding round drew such a volume and range of applications that the 2003
Guidelines included a list of what would not be funded and some case studies of
Office of the Minister of Education (2001). Proposals for students with moderate special needs.
Once again, the range of applications was so broad that further refinement was deemed
necessary, and the 2004 Guidelines included some examples of what would be regarded
as appropriate 'programmes' as well as what would not be funded. Examples of
appropriate programmes included parent involvement to support students, social skills
programmes, transition programmes, professional development, and development and
enhancement of special needs co-ordination. Reflecting the increasing emphasis on
building school capability, the 2005 Guidelines promoted professional development to the
top of the list of examples of programmes that would meet the criteria for EPF.
Throughout the life of the evaluation, what constituted 'a programme' was never clear.
While people involved in EPF allocation supported the development of systems and
processes in schools to improve the learning of students with moderate special education
need, it was apparent from applications that most schools thought that 'a programme'
needed to be something delivered to students.
Building school capability in meeting the needs of students with moderate special
education need was always a stated policy goal from 2003, and gradually became more
explicitly the focus of EPF allocation from 2004 on.
As the preference for professional development programmes became clearer, so too did
the lack of alignment between how schools were asked to identify need and what
programmes were considered appropriate to meet the needs. The preferred programmes
were those that built capability in the school in such a way that the benefits to the students
survived the life of the funding. However, schools were asked to demonstrate their need
for EPF by showing that they had a disproportionate number of students with moderate
special education need, not by making a case that their teachers needed to be upskilled.
This appears to have inclined schools to proprietary programmes that offered to address
the needs of the students, rather than those which built the capacity of the school.
The policy intent for EPF articulates three goals – that magnet schools be rewarded, that
schools develop and enhance programmes for students with moderate special education
need, and that school capability to meet the needs of this group of students be enhanced.
This evaluation found that considerable efforts were made year after year to adjust the
EPF allocation criteria and process to in an attempt to better meet the policy goals.
However, ultimately having one contestable fund to meet three different policy goals was
unworkable and the evaluation can offer little assurance that the policy goals were met.
What the evaluation can confirm, and this report goes on to describe, is that schools which
were granted EPF spent it to the benefit of students with moderate special education
3. The allocation process
The Enhanced Programme Fund had five allocation rounds between June 2002 and June
2006. These were conducted in:
1. June 2002
2. September/October 2002
3. September 2003
4. September 2004
5. September 2005.
Formative feedback on the allocation process was an integral component of the EPF
evaluation. Reports were completed on the second, third and fourth allocation rounds. The
purpose of the reports was to give feedback on the allocation process and identify ways in
which the process could be improved7.
This evaluation was asked to provide information on:
the effectiveness and reliability of the allocation process
changes to allocation processes between rounds
how schools identify students with moderate special needs and the implications for
the allocation processes
the outcome of the allocation process including a comparison of successful and
issues that arose during the allocation process.
The data gathered to report on the allocation rounds was slightly different each year, but
each year the researchers:
reviewed the guidelines, desk file, available data and documentation associated
with the allocation round and applicant schools
attended a training day in one or more regions
attended short listing days in one or more regions
interviewed each of the four regional co-ordinators following the completion of the
In addition, at different times we
attended the national moderation exercise
attended meetings in the regions between Group Special Education (GSE) staff
and National Operations staff
completed post allocation interviews with GSE staff
initiated a time and cost tracking system for the allocation round with EPF co-
3.1 THE ALLOCATION PROCESS
The first two EPF allocation rounds in 2002 were managed at a national level, all
subsequent allocation rounds were managed in each of the four GSE regions. The process
altered little through the five rounds. Following the publication of EPF Guidelines, each
allocation round involved:
See Summary Report 1: The allocation process
schools’ submission of expression of interest (also known as the application form)
shortlisting days with panels made up of GSE staff, local principals, a school
trustee representative, and representatives of Te Runanga Nui O Nga Kura
Kaupapa Maori o Aotearoa and iwi partnerships with the Ministry.
cross-referencing with other data held by the Ministry of Education on applicant
schools (introduced in 2003)
interview of shortlisted schools
final selection of successful schools.
3.2 STRENGTHS OF THE ALLOCATION PROCESS
3.2.1 A formative process
Each year the allocation round was reviewed by the regional co-ordinators and the
Operational Policy Advisor to see what could be learned from the process and how it could
be improved. This resulted in a number of changes from year to year which most of those
involved believed improved the allocation process.
3.2.2 A focus on moderate needs
The allocation process required schools to focus on their students with moderate needs
and to plan for how to better meet those needs. Schools assisted by EPF Advisors were
helped to review systems, processes and programmes in place for students with moderate
needs and make some decisions about which were worth enhancing in an EPF
application; all applicants had to describe, cost and identify outcomes for proposed
programmes to support students with moderate needs; and shortlisted schools had an
interview in which they were invited to talk about how the programme fitted into the
school's priorities and plans and how staff capacity to work with moderate needs students
would be enhanced.
3.2.3 Working towards transparent and objective allocation
The allocation process made a serious attempt to make the basis of funding allocation very
specific and very transparent. Asking schools to identify the proportion of their students
with moderate special needs was an attempt to bring objectivity to allocation decisions –
an attempt that was ultimately unsuccessful because of the lack of a common definition of
moderate special needs.
3.2.4 The involvement of GSE
The involvement of GSE staff at all stages of the allocation process was seen by GSE to
foster relationships between the Group and the schools they serve. GSE staff involved in
the allocation process were enthusiastic and committed to their task, saying it provided an
opportunity for them to discuss with schools their provision for students with moderate
needs. There was also good collaboration between GSE and local principals in the
3.2.5 Regional allocation
All participants were enthusiastic about the regional allocation process that was adopted
from 2003 believing that the advantages of local knowledge outweighed the disadvantages
of regional variation in decision making.
3.3 PROBLEMS WITH THE ALLOCATION PROCESS
3.3.1 Unclear policy intent
The lack of clarity about the policy intent of EPF led directly to many of the problems
identified with the allocation process. The purpose of the Fund was not as clear as it
needed to be to the schools applying, or to the people making the allocation decisions. It
was fundamentally unclear whether the Fund was designed to support magnet schools,
high need schools or schools making innovative responses to students with moderate
special education need.
3.3.2 Lack of definition of terms
The lack of definition around key terms such as 'moderate', 'disproportionate', and
'underachieving', combined with a quasi-scientific calculation of need, resulted in schools
using a great variety of ways to determine their proportion of students with moderate
special education need. However, considerable weight was given to this proportion within
the allocation process. Clearer definitions or a different process could have led to stronger
and more comparable applications.
3.3.3 A programme
What constituted 'a programme' was never fully clear. The term 'programme' did not
obviously include the systems and processes some schools developed to support the
learning of students with moderate special education need although this was in many
cases a very effective response.
3.3.4. A complex process
The process was overly complex with several stages and weak links between stages.
Although mechanisms (forms and meetings) were developed to convey information from
one stage to the next, time pressures meant that forms often lacked crucial information,
and that meetings were overwhelmed by the volume of material.
The complex process was designed to be supported by training for all of those involved. In
reality, the timeframes made it very difficult for staff – particularly interviewers – to attend
training days and many of those who participated in the process had not attended the
training that might have clarified their role in the process.
3.3.6 Regional variation
The regional nature of the allocation process was to some extent incompatible with the
development and dissemination of national guidelines. The national guidelines gave the
appearance of a nationally consistent process whereas in reality each region did things
somewhat differently reflecting regional priorities.
3.3.7 Changing ground rules
While changes to the guidelines and allocation process year after year solved some
problems, they created others. These ranged from schools being unaware that funding
criteria had changed to schools submitting outdated application forms that were missing
currently required information.
Efforts made to ensure that funding allocations were well informed by both Ministry
information and local knowledge led to some risks to the transparency of funding
3.3.9 The role of GSE
The role of GSE as a key player in the allocation of funding put GSE staff in a new type of
relationship with schools in their area. This had a range of implications for relationships
between GSE staff and both funded and unsuccessful applicant schools.
3.3.10 Schools that did not apply
Some schools known to have high numbers of students with moderate special education
need did not apply for EPF. This was recognised by all of those involved in the allocation
process, and the EPF Adviser positions were to some extent designed to meet this need.
However, the fact that some of the schools in greatest need of EPF funding did not apply
remains an issue for the allocation process.
3.4 EPF ADVISORS
Early in 2003 additional funding was granted for EPF advisors whose role was to build the
capacity in schools to be able to make robust applications to the EPF. As part of the EPF
evaluation the Ministry of Education asked for a review of the EPF advisor role8.
The roles of EPF advisors in working with schools hoping to apply for EPF included:
providing information about requirements, processes and timelines
discussing eligibility criteria and developing systems for identifying and 'evidencing'
students with moderate special education needs
providing advice, support and assistance with programme development
talking schools through the EPF application.
A small number of advisors also initiated contact with schools that currently had EPF
funding. They reported that their contact with these schools centred around:
celebrating programme successes
providing direct assistance with a programme
giving advice on information to collect for programme accountability
discussing programme direction
providing professional development for staff.
The key findings of the evaluation were:
While there was a high degree of consistency in the core tasks undertaken by
advisors, the 'coverage' they achieved varied significantly even taking into account
the difference in time allocated to advisors in different regions. Potential
explanations include differences in the extent of need in different parts of the
country, in advisors' perceptions of eligibility for EPF, or in schools' capacity to
apply for funding without assistance.
Inconsistent role definition. Advisors both responded to schools which requested
assistance, and identified schools that they considered had a need and were
eligible for EPF. Some advisors worked only with schools that were poised to make
an application, others worked with schools with demonstrated need but insufficient
capability to design a programme or prepare an application. In some areas
advisors visited funded schools and attempted to assess how well the programme
Need for professional development. Advisors voiced a need for professional
development for the role. In those regions where advisors met even occasionally,
the people interviewed reported enormous value both in ensuring consistency of
advisor practice and in developing ideas for effective programmes that can be
shared with schools.
Lack of information about the application process leading to inconsistent
information. Advisors identified the need for good communication between those
developing the guidelines, advisors, interviewers and moderators to ensure they
were take a consistent approach to good practice for students with moderate
special education need.
Schools indicated that in general they were not aware that EPF advisor assistance was
available. One advisor expressed concern that the moderators in that region appeared to
be looking for somewhat different things in applications from the information advisors were
See Summary Report 4: The EPF Advisor role
encouraging schools to submit. This person made a plea for better links between advisors,
interviewers and moderators to ensure they were all looking for the same things.
4. Characteristics of funded schools
This chapter reviews the characteristics of schools funded through the five EPF funding
rounds. It looks in more detail at funded and unfunded schools in a sample district in each
of the four GSE regions. It also explores the concept of magnet schools and the relevance
of roll-based funding to the 17 schools that were case studies for the evaluation.
4.1 CHARACTERISTICS OF FUNDED SCHOOLS
This section contains a brief overview of characteristics schools funded through the five
EPF funding rounds.
Table 1: Funded schools
Schools Schools Funded as % of Grants given
Round applied funded applied (approx)
1 (2002) 503 60 12% $5,506,000
2 (2002) 386 124 32% $12,245,000
3 (2003) 222 68 31% $2,500,000
4 (2004) 133 75 56% $6,908,000
5 (2005) 220 110 50% $11,519,000
Total 1464 437 30% $38,678,000
Table 2: Funded schools by school type
Round Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5
School Type 1 (2002) (2002) (2003) (2004) (2005)
Contributing 27 42 29 25 42
Full Primary 18 19 16 24 24
Intermediate 5 5 4 6 9
Secondary 9 54 14 16 32
Composite 1 4 5 3 3
Kura Teina 0 0 0 1 0
Table 3: Funded schools by decile
School Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5
Decile (2002) (2002) (2003) (2004) (2005)
1 15 22 17 14 13
2 13 26 14 14 14
3 9 21 12 12 27
4 11 24 9 11 17
5 4 14 7 9 15
6 2 8 5 4 8
7 2 4 2 8 8
8 2 3 1 2 4
9 0 2 1 0 2
10 2 0 0 1 2
Table 4: Funded schools by school size
School Round Round 2 Round Round 4 Round 5
Size 1 (2002) (2002) 3 (2003) (2004) (2005)
100 or less 9 2 4 6 8
101-200 17 18 10 17 15
201-300 5 19 16 19 22
300-400 15 20 12 7 14
400-600 8 27 15 12 22
601-800 4 11 5 6 9
801 + 2 27 6 8 20
4.2 COMPARISON OF FUNDED AND UNFUNDED SCHOOLS BY SAMPLE DISTRICT
In order to determine the characteristics of funded schools the evaluation team undertook
a comparison of funded and unfunded schools in four GSE districts – one in each region.
The data came from Auckland Central in Northern Region, Bay of Plenty East in Central
North Region, Central District in Central South Region, and Southland District in Southern
Region. The districts were chosen in consultation with staff from GSE National Office to
provide a manageable sample and to allow an urban-provincial/rural comparison as well as
limited comparisons between the four GSE regions.
The numbers are small and the districts may not be representative of the region as a
whole rendering the results only indicative. In addition, since 2003 EPF allocations have
been made at the regional level. While all regions used the same EPF guidelines, selection
criteria and selection processes in making decisions, it is clear there was some variation in
the way processes were implemented and final selections made9.
The correlation between decile and applications for EPF was not strong, but schools in
deciles 1 to 4 were consistently more likely to be granted funding than those in deciles 5 to
10. This was confirmed by national data over all five allocation rounds.
In all districts except Southland, schools in the lower four deciles were more likely to
receive funding than those in higher deciles. Across all four districts, only four schools in
decile 8 and above received funding.
4.2.2 School type
Within the four district sample, secondary schools received a disproportionate number of
EPF grants. This was also confirmed by national data over all five allocation rounds.
In all districts, disproportionate numbers of secondary schools applied for EPF funding.
Overall, similar proportions of applications from secondary and primary schools received
funding. Secondary schools therefore received a disproportionate number of EPF grants.
Intermediate schools were least likely to be funded. In three districts, disproportionate
numbers of intermediate schools applied for EPF funding. In all three districts, intermediate
schools were less likely than other types of schools to be granted funding.
4.2.3 School size
The larger the school the more likely it was to apply for EPF funding. In all districts, smaller
schools (defined here as those with fewer than 200 students), were least likely to apply for
In three districts mid-size schools (with rolls between 200 and 600) were more likely to
receive funding than smaller or larger schools. This pattern was confirmed by national data
over all five allocation rounds. A high proportion (88%) of the largest schools applying in
Auckland Central District received funding.
4.2.4 Ethnic composition of school roll
In districts with higher Maori populations schools with a high Maori roll were less likely to
apply for but more likely to receive EPF funding if they did apply.
For detailed data comparisons see Summary Report 3: A report on data from four Special
The likelihood of a school applying for EPF funding was not associated with the proportion
of Maori students on the roll in Auckland Central District, nor was their chance of success.
4.2.5 Correlation with other types of support for students with special needs
The number of students with ORRS funding, SLS funding or on schools’ behaviour needs
registers did not appear to be related to applications for or success in obtaining EPF
4.3 MAGNET SCHOOLS
One of the drivers behind the introduction of EPF was the recognition that some schools
become ‘magnet schools’ for students with particular needs.
Some schools are known as magnets schools because they enrol a disproportionate
number of students with moderate special education need. Parents of children with special
education needs are attracted to magnet schools because they perceive the schools are
more accepting of their children, and/or provide a quality education. Other schools are the
only one in an area that has a disproportionate number of students with special education
The Ministry of Education recognised that, in some cases, these schools are unable to
meet the additional education needs of these students through population-based funding.
In 2001, the Ministry proposed that a supplementary grant be provided to magnet schools
to support a special education programme that meets quality criteria.
The focus on magnet schools was never made explicit in EPF Guidelines. The Guidelines
have always referred only to the Fund providing support for 'schools with disproportionate
numbers of students with moderate special education need', regardless of whether they
were attracted to the school because of the programme it offered or not. In establishing
EPF, the Ministry provided no national definition of moderate needs, taking the view that
schools were in the best position to determine which students have moderate needs10.
This approach is in line with international trends in defining students with special needs
where there has been a shift away from using traditional descriptive categories derived
from medical classifications which may not be useful in determining a student’s
educational needs. The focus now is on identifying a student’s educational needs and
considering a broader range of students, with needs arising from disability, learning
difficulties or disadvantage. With such a focus, it is reasonable to accept that schools may
be in the best position to determine who these students are or what level of need they
In a recent report, the OECD12 proposed three categories for identifying students with
special education needs, but made no distinction within those categories for identifying
students with severe, moderate and mild education needs. The categories are:
Disabilities – students with disabilities or impairments viewed in medical terms as
organic disorders attributable to organic pathologies (e.g. in relation to sensory,
motor or neurological defects). The educational need is considered to arise
primarily from problems attributable to these difficulties.
Ref: Cabinet Paper SEQ (01) 106, 8 Oct 2001
See Supplementary Report 2: A literature review on international school-based funding initiatives
for students with moderate special education need
OECD 2005 Students with Disabilities, Learning Difficulties and Disadvantages OECD: Paris
Difficulties – students with behavioural or emotional disorders, or specific difficulties
in learning. The educational need is considered to arise primarily from problems in
the interaction between the students and the educational context.
Disadvantages - students with disadvantages arising primarily from socio-
economic, cultural, and/or linguistic factors. The educational need stems from
4.3.2 Case study schools
As part of this evaluation, 17 schools were chosen as case studies, 10 from the 2003
round and seven from the 2004 round. They were chosen to give a diversity of school type,
size and location and to include a range of programmes. They were not specifically chosen
to include schools that have attracted a disproportionate number of students with moderate
special education need (magnet schools). While the schools may not be representative of
funded schools as a whole, there is nothing to suggest that the case study schools are
other than typical.
Only one of the 17 schools applied for funding to support a programme for students with
disabilities. This school has developed expertise in catering for students with autism
spectrum disorders. Four secondary schools, two intermediate schools and one primary
school applied for funds primarily to support students with learning difficulties. Six schools
were located in areas of high need and sought assistance for programmes designed
primarily to compensate for disadvantage. Three other schools also sought to compensate
for disadvantage, but were not necessarily in high need areas.
Eleven out of the 17 case study schools made no direct reference to attracting additional
students in their application. The application form did not make any reference to magnet
schools, nor did it ask schools to provide evidence that they were attracting a
disproportionate number of students with moderate special education need.
Three primary schools, two intermediate schools and one secondary school did claim
magnet status but only one gave evidence for this claim, citing the proportion of students
from outside the school zone. During visits to case study schools, researchers discussed
each school’s situation in relation to its EPF application. At this point, four more schools
referred to their magnet status and one primary school that had claimed magnet status in
its application form, expressed ambivalence about that claim. This means that 10 out of 17
schools – four primary schools, two intermediate schools and four secondary schools –
claiming magnet status in some form. The other seven schools were in areas of high need
or had full rolls. They may well have attracted additional students because of the quality of
their programmes but were unable to cater for them because of existing pressures.
The 10 schools that claimed some form of magnet status had few distinguishing
characteristics. They appeared to be no different from other schools in terms of size, decile
or use of support services. Three of the four secondary schools had had a special unit in
the past; this contributed to their current status.
4.4 Roll-based funding
One of the questions this report was asked to address was whether some schools have
characteristics that make roll-based funding formulae unfair13.
The Special Education Grant (SEG) was introduced as part of Special Education 2000. It
provides schools with direct funds to support students with moderate learning or behaviour
difficulties, and thus caters for a similar group of students as the EPF. The grant is paid
directly to all state and integrated schools as part of their operational funding. The SEG is
See Supplementary Report 3: Questions of interest to the Ministry of Education.
made up of a base amount per school and a per student amount weighted by decile with
decile 1 schools receiving twice as much per student as decile 10 schools.
While decile-based funding goes some way towards compensating low decile schools for
the pressures created by being in a disadvantaged area, case study schools indicated that
the SEG is often not enough to cater for the high number of students who come with
emotional and behaviour problems and learning difficulties. Nor, in rural areas, is it enough
to enable small schools to recruit suitably qualified staff, who may be expected to travel
some distance to the school for a few hours work a week.
Middle decile schools with magnet status find their SEG grant under pressure, while some
high decile secondary schools in areas with pockets of disadvantage believe they have a
disproportionate number of students with high learning needs and that current funding
mechanisms do not provide adequate support.
5. How funding was used
As part of the evaluation, 17 schools were chosen as case studies, 10 from the 2003 round
and seven from the 2004 round. They were chosen to give a diversity of school type, size
and location and to include a range of programmes14. The data for this chapter and the
next chapter of this report was drawn from case studies.
The aim of the case studies was to:
describe the components of each school’s programme
show how schools identified and reported student outcome information
report any educational and other outcomes for students
look at the ways in which the Fund supported capacity building within each school
consider the involvement of parents in their children’s learning
identify any other issues for schools.
The case studies included:
8 contributing and primary schools
2 intermediate schools
7 secondary schools, including one year 7 to year 13 school.
Eight case study schools were decile 1-3, six schools were decile 4-7, and three were
5.1 PRIMARY SCHOOLS
Five of the eight full and contributing primary schools used their funds for literacy-related
programmes, supported in four cases by some SENCO time.
Four of these schools are in areas of high need, with falling or transient rolls and a high
proportion of Maori students, most of whom come in with little pre-school experience. The
schools used their EPF funding for:
an experienced part-time teacher to work with selected new entrant students three
mornings a week
an SRA reading kit and training for teacher aides and staff in its use
a .2 SENCO to assess students, slot them into programmes, manage teacher aides
and work with students more intensively
a language programme to lift the oral language skills of students and a teacher aide
to deliver the Perceptual Motor Programme (PMP).
The fifth school, in a high decile area, used their grant to fund a part-time SENCO position
to identify students whose literacy levels were two or more years behind their chronological
age and develop a programme for them. The programme involved brief periods of
withdrawal for extra tuition in small groups.
Three primary schools adopted a whole school approach to working with children with
moderate special education need. One school attracts an increasing number of students
with autism spectrum disorders; one is in an area with a high proportion of families in need
and children with challenging behaviours; the third attracts a disproportionate number of
children with behaviour and learning difficulties. This school subsequently became
involved in a network review, which affected its ability to deliver its EPF programme. The
schools used their EPF funding for:
See Summary Report 2: Summary of case study reports.
a full-time SENCO position to promote inclusive practices and appropriate
withdrawal spaces, liaise with parents, coordinate parent tutoring in literacy and
numeracy and develop visual and other curriculum resources
professional development for staff; teacher release to allow senior staff to work one
to one with students, and to provide mentoring and parent liaison; support for a
school-wide professional development particularly in behaviour management;
teacher aides to provide playground and recreation support and to run the PMP.
Example 1: Special education needs co-ordinator position
A city primary school that has developed a reputation for working well with students on the
autism spectrum attracts an increasing number of these students. Managing the contact
required with parents and other professionals put an extra burden on the principal.
The school used EPF money to pay for a SENCO who promotes inclusive practices in all
classrooms and appropriate withdrawal spaces when required to allow special needs
students to access the academic and social curriculum. The SENCO has developed and
maintained strong relationships with both staff and parents.
All staff received training on working with children with autism spectrum disorders. As well
as supporting staff in using techniques they have learned, the SENCO works with pre-
schools and intermediate schools to improve the transition of students with special
education needs as they move from one educational environment to another.
Example 2: Whole school focus on students with moderate special education need
A primary school in a rural area has taken a whole school therapeutic approach to
managing students’ behaviour and interpersonal relationships. The programme has an
advisory committee that includes the public health nurse, the RTLB, a psychologist, GSE
advisor, the school principal and the SENCO. All staff receive training in behaviour
management, and teachers use every opportunity to make contacts with parents. Teacher
aides with training in sports and recreation run morning break and lunchtime games in the
playground, which has led to marked changes in students’ behaviour. The school also
operates a gardening programme and a homework centre that contributes to students’
self-confidence and improved their work habits. EPF funding has contributed to all these
5.2 INTERMEDIATE SCHOOLS
The two case study intermediate schools used their grants quite differently.
One has a number of new immigrant and refugee students who have high health needs
and extensive other agency involvement. The school also has a high Pacific enrolment
with 20% Tongan and 20% Samoan students. A significant number of students are non-
readers. The school used their EPF grant for a full-time SENCO to set up a better early
needs assessment procedure, including better links with feeder schools.
The other school has established a temporary withdrawal from morning classes for
targeted students for extra support with maths and/or literacy (separately). Initially, a
teacher aide, under the supervision of a teacher, provided this assistance in small groups;
later, the school employed an experienced teacher to deliver the programme. The school
also initially offered a behavioural programme in the afternoons to a different group of
students under the aegis of the Deputy Principal, but abandoned this to use the resources
to provide more targeted teaching time. The programme had a range of components
including social skills, life skills, physical skills, presentation skills etc depending on the
needs of the group.
Example 3: Temporary withdrawal, intensive teaching and supported reintegration
An intermediate school in a small town has used EPF funds to employ a teacher and a
teacher aide to provide selected students with temporary withdrawal from morning classes
(1.5 hours each day for a 10-week block) for extra support with maths and/or literacy.
The school had difficulty finding a space for the programme and created a space by
adapting the lobby of the technology suite. The teacher in charge has placed strong
emphasis on winning support from other staff who are responsible for maintaining
students’ learning when they return to their mainstream classes. He provides classroom
teachers with information about what the programme has covered, and each student's
progress. Classroom teachers are also invited to attend the programme so they can see
the work being done with students and share ideas on how to support the learning of
students who underachieve.
Initial tests have confirmed that students make considerable gains in the 10 weeks.
Ongoing monitoring is in place to determine whether progress is sustained when the
students return to mainstream classes.
5.3 SECONDARY SCHOOLS
All but one of the case study secondary schools used their grant to support Year 9 and 10
students, the other focused on students in Year 11. They adopted different approaches to
supporting the learning and behavioural needs of students.
Four schools focused on improving literacy and numeracy levels for targeted students.
One school did this by adapting curriculum resources. Another ran four small classes for
Year 9 and 10 students in which the literacy programme followed the same curriculum as
mainstream classes but was tailored for these students, with more focus on reading,
developing understanding and responding. While it was originally intended that there
would be regular movement of students out of the literacy programme each term, most
students remained in the class for a whole year. A third school placed a tutor in English
classes to work alongside students to help support the teacher in curriculum delivery. The
school also attached a specialist teacher of literacy to work alongside the classroom
teacher to share skills and resources and develop new strategies for working with
students. All four schools developed resources to support curriculum delivery which are
available to other teachers and students in the school.
Two secondary schools used their funds to provide support for students in a small group
situation. One has used the Youth Award Scheme (YAS) and the Transition Challenge15 as
vehicles to provide small group and individual support, mainly for students in Year 10.
The second school established a new small class for Year 9 students who cannot cope in
the mainstream. The 13 students have a form teacher supported in class by one or more
teacher aides. For the second year of EPF, students were mainstreamed for all classes
other than English, maths, social studies and science which they had with the specialist
teacher and teacher aides. None was able to return to the mainstream for these subjects.
In the third year of EPF, the programme is targeting only the 10 most needy students in
One secondary school appointed a half-time SENCO to establish a special education
needs register, identify students and establish need. She works with teachers and parents
and with the RTLB in developing appropriate resources.
In summary, schools used their funds for:
YAS and the Transition challenge are supported by the Award Scheme Development and
Accreditation Network (ASDAN) and follow their curriculum.
a .5 SENCO position to identify students, assess need and work with teachers and
teacher aides. The work is supported by the development of resources
a numeracy programme for targeted students through one-to-one or in class
restorative justice processes to improve relationships within the school
creation of extra classes at Year 9 and 10 to concentrate on reading and basic
adapting curriculum resources for students with moderate special needs
a literacy enhancement initiative targeting Year 11 students
small group and individual support for students in Year 10
a small class for targeted Year 9 and Year 10 students who cannot cope in the
Professional development in relation to EPF funded programmes has been limited in all
case study schools.
Example 4: Curriculum adaptation
A large secondary school employed two staff part-time to prepare resources in maths,
English, science and social studies for Year 9 and 10 students with moderate special
The resources are produced as booklets with information and guidance for teachers and
teacher aides as well as activities for students. Each student gets a copy of the booklet to
use as a workbook. The teachers preparing the resources keep in close contact with
classroom teachers so that their resources match what teachers are delivering in the
mainstream. The aim is to fill the gap between the most needy and mainstream students.
The booklets are used for small groups of students who work in a homeroom with a
teacher and teacher-aide, as well as for students with special education needs in
mainstream classes. Each teacher gets a copy of resources relevant for their classes and
they can order more. Many found the booklets useful for mainstream students as well.
This school made the adapted resources available to other schools in the area at cost, a
move that has been very well received.
Example 5 Small group support
A single sex secondary school attracted a number of students with behavioural or learning
needs who could not cope in a large class. The school developed programmes to allow the
students the opportunity to learn in a small group with more individual programmes.
The school originally planned a full 25-hour a week programme but when it received only
half the funds applied for, staff modified the programme to focus on the YAS and
Transition Challenge for students in Year 10. The classes for this programme are
timetabled alongside social studies classes; students take part for three or six hours per
week and their activities are assessed against standards within the programme. The EPF
coordinator takes one class and another teacher the other. Students remain in the
mainstream for other classes. This has benefits for the students who are not labelled as
'failing' and remain connected to a wider group of students within the school.
In association with the RTLB, the coordinator developed IEPs for each student. She also
works with parents, teachers and the students themselves. While all students made good
progress against targets in their IEPs, transferring the confidence they gained in small
groups to mainstream classes remained a challenge.
5.4 PROGRAMMES, SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES
The evaluation was asked whether there was any evidence on the relative merits of
spending EPF on programmes, or spending it on systems, processes and personnel –
such as a SENCO16.
The 2006 EPF Guidelines make it clear that the prime aim of the EPF is to increase whole
school capability to manage students with moderate special education need. Earlier
Guidelines were less clear on this point. Case study schools that took a whole school
approach to student management or that appointed a SENCO to develop school wide
systems and processes and/or to work with teachers to extend their knowledge and
improve their classroom practice were more likely to achieve this than schools which used
their EPF funding to implement programmes with groups of students.
Schools whose primary goal was to lift the achievement and participation in learning of
targeted students often found that they were unable to meet their needs within their regular
classroom, and many EPF funded programmes included an element of withdrawal. Where
the programme included a high degree of withdrawal, the transfer of skills to other staff
was usually limited. Where the programme included a combination of integration and
withdrawal, there was usually some transfer of skills to other staff but the extent of this
depended very much on how the programme was delivered and the commitment of the
programme coordinator and senior management.
See Supplementary Report 3: Questions of interest to the Ministry of Education
6. Evidence linking funded programmes to improved achievement
Most of the case study schools tracked the learning of students benefiting from EPF
funded programmes through the data they were already collecting. Some collected it more
often and analysed it more closely for students identified as having moderate special
Schools kept good records on individual students and most used PAT, STAR and PROBE
tests to assess gains in learning. Two schools also mentioned the Burt test, the Schonell
spelling test, the McCarthy-Kirk and JOST screening tests. Most schools were transitioning
from PATs to AsTTLe as an assessment tool, or assessing students against curriculum
levels. Some schools also obtained written evaluation comments from teachers on
targeted students' achievement.
One primary school found it very useful to plot each student's achievement against
national norms for the student's age group. This resulted in teachers, who had previously
been satisfied when a student was making progress, setting their sights on closing the gap
between the student's achievement and the age group norm.
6.1.2 Attitudes and behaviour
Schools found it difficult to measure attitudinal changes or to assess improvements in
confidence, personal skills, relationship development or, for teachers, ease of classroom
management. Schools believed that these changes are important because they signal
greater engagement with education.
Schools sought to find out whether the EPF programme had any impact on students’
behaviour or social interactions through:
a systematic review of students on the special needs register with an opportunity
for all staff to contribute observations and other feedback
developing checklists to note changes in skills and attitudes
tracking the number of times a student appeared in a 'serious incident' log
analysing students' absenteeism and discipline records
monitoring the time students could manage in the mainstream programme without
disrupting it, and
recording falls in the number of IEPs needed.
Some schools surveyed teachers’ perceptions of and confidence in working with students
with moderate special education needs.
All schools reported improved achievement from students who fully participated in EPF
programmes to support student learning and achievement. In most cases their data
confirmed that the gap between the achievement of targeted students and those of their
age peers had reduced.
Schools reported that supporting the learning needs of moderate special needs students
generally improved their behaviour and attendance. One intermediate school initially split
its EPF funding between a programme to support students' literacy and numeracy and a
programme to deal with students with difficult behaviour. After two terms they discontinued
the behavioural programme having become convinced that attending to students' learning
needs was the key to reducing behavioural difficulties.
Sharing resources among staff improved teaching, encouraged collegiality and facilitated
more discussion about students’ problems and progress. Two secondary schools were
surprised at the extent to which teachers shared resources and developed new ones.
Having adapted curriculum resources also often benefited a much broader group of
students than those initially targeted under EPF.
6.3 ELEMENTS OF GOOD PRACTICE
Within the 17 case study schools some EPF funded programmes were more successful
than others. Successful programmes showed coherence and continuity, which is to say
there was clarity about the group of students being targeted, and while the programme
may have changed and developed over the life of the funding, there were clear reasons
and a rationale for any changes. Schools with successful programmes engaged with the
evaluators and were keen to discuss ideas for supporting students with moderate special
education needs and to find out what other EPF funded schools were doing. Schools with
successful programmes were committed to supporting students with moderate special
education needs and worried about how they were going to maintain initiatives once EPF
funding was no longer available. This section draws together some elements of good
practice apparent in case study schools with successful programmes.
6.3.1 Planning and leadership
In some small schools, programmes were led directly by the principal; in larger schools,
responsibility was often delegated to a member of the senior management team. In both
instances, the principal and senior staff were committed to the programme, provided
appropriate resources and support, were familiar with the programme and actively
promoted it within the school.
6.3.2 A whole school approach
In schools with successful programmes there was an acceptance by staff that supporting
the learning of students with moderate special education needs is the responsibility of the
whole school and requires a whole school approach. Programmes that worked well were
able to draw on a supportive culture within the school and on the resources and skills of
staff and management to enhance the programme. The whole school benefited from the
Some primary and intermediate schools adopted a whole school approach from the outset,
which included familiarising staff with the programme, putting systems in place that all staff
could use to access the skills of programme leaders and professional development for staff
so they could use the skills and resources arising from the programme.
In secondary schools, successful programmes either began in one curriculum department,
usually English, and from there were actively promoted through other departments or
began with a particular cluster of students and teachers and were then promoted to and
adopted by other teachers.
6.3.3 The right people
Programmes that worked well were all led by at least one committed staff member. Most
had a team of two who were able to provide each other with support and backup. Staff in
these roles included SENCOs, RTLBs, a designated EPF coordinator, staff with specialist
skills and Heads of Departments.
Staff working on successful programmes were passionate about their work and believed in
their students’ ability to do well. They were seen as an integral part of the school’s staff
and did not work in isolation. This enabled them to convey their knowledge, skills and
enthusiasm to other staff as part of their routine meetings and connections.
6.3.4 Clear identification of the students the programme is trying to help
Schools with programmes that worked well had a clear understanding of the students they
were targeting and what they wanted to achieve. They identified students using sound
academic, behavioural and, where appropriate, medical and family records.
6.3.5 Intensive monitoring of students and programme implementation
During the programme, schools kept detailed records including academic achievement,
attendance and suspension figures, teacher and often parent ratings on behaviour and
students’ own perceptions of how well they were doing. Schools also surveyed teachers’
views on the implementation and effectiveness of the programme and adapted it
accordingly. Staff involved with the targeted students met regularly to discuss their
6.3.6 A commitment to measuring programme effects, even if this is difficult.
Successful schools were committed to learning from the programme and using that
knowledge to improve teaching in the school as a whole. Some schools modified their
programmes as a result of their experience. Some developed innovative forms of
measurement including checklists and behaviour registers to assess programme success.
6.3.7 Good systems that survive the life of the programme
Several schools focused on establishing clear procedures for identifying and managing
students with moderate special education needs. They implemented these systems across
the school and provided resources and support for teachers as they identified students
with these needs. As they became familiar with the systems and realised that support was
available, staff became more confident, both in seeking help and in managing students’
6.3.8 Support for students in both withdrawal and inclusion settings
Most programmes adopted an integrative rather than a fully inclusive approach, that is,
targeted students were in mainstream classes most of the time but were withdrawn for
varying periods of time for one-to-one or small group support and teaching. In the most
successful programmes, there were clear links between the mainstream and support
classes, with teachers supporting each other through sharing information and resources as
well as adopting similar teaching and behaviour management strategies.
6.3.9 Full use of adapted curriculum resources
A number of schools adapted curriculum resources to suit targeted students. Staff soon
realised that these resources could benefit a much wider range of students and facilitate
teaching in mainstream classes. Their use in mainstream classes often facilitated the
return of students from withdrawal settings. Some schools were generous in sharing their
resources with other schools in the area, a gesture which was greatly appreciated.
6.3.9 Investment in professional development for teachers
While very few schools invested extensively in professional development as part of their
EPF programme, those that did found staff confidence and capability grew and that staff
were more willing to discuss problems, identify solutions and try new initiatives.
6.3.10 Support for teacher aides
Schools implementing EPF programmes relied extensively on skilled teacher aides.
Programmes that worked well invested in professional development for their teacher aides
and drew on their experience in designing and implementing the programme. They
explicitly acknowledged the contribution teacher aides made to the programme’s success.
6.4 EFFECTIVE MECHANISMS FOR SUPPORTING STUDENTS IN PRIMARY AND SECONDARY
The evaluation team was asked whether the evaluation could provide any guidance on
whether effective mechanisms for supporting students with moderate special education
needs differ between primary and secondary schools17.
The size and structure of primary and secondary schools tends to be very different. It is
therefore not surprising that they took different approaches to supporting the achievement
of students with moderate special education needs.
Primary schools tended to take a more holistic approach, paying as much attention to
students’ behaviour and emotional problems and learning difficulties as they did to
curriculum content. Most of these schools were relatively small, which made a whole
school approach a feasible and effective option. Primary schools that used their funds for a
full or part-time SENCO improved their systems for identifying and assessing students with
moderate special education needs, which was also effective both in providing immediate
support for students with moderate special education needs and in setting the groundwork
for a sustainable approach to managing these students in the future.
Case studies suggested it is more challenging for a large secondary school to adopt a
school-wide approach to managing students with moderate special education needs and
none of the case study secondary schools did this. Their focus on junior school students
and on literacy enabled them to offer smaller classes and increased teacher attention,
which was as effective for their students as it was for primary school students.
In secondary schools a small class of students with moderate special education needs
sometimes operated as a 'regular' class in its own right, or included a mix of
mainstreaming and withdrawal which allowed students to maintain a connection with their
regular class for some of their learning.
Adaptation of curriculum resources that could be used in both the mainstream class and in
smaller, targeted classes was a promising approach used in some secondary schools.
One secondary school used its EPF grant to adapt curriculum resources for Year 9 and 10
students and extended its work across the core curriculum areas. The booklets were used
for small groups of students who worked in a homeroom with a teacher and teacher-aide,
as well as for students with special education needs in mainstream classes. Each teacher
was given a copy of resources relevant for their classes and many found the booklets
useful for mainstream students. Demand for the booklets grew, as did requests for advice
from the Special Needs Department, and the school enhanced the effectiveness of the
booklets by making them available to other schools in the area.
6.5 EFFECTIVE PROGRAMMES AND SYSTEMS IN MAGNET SCHOOLS
Ten of the 17 case study schools claimed some form of magnet status. The programmes
the 10 schools offered varied but they shared some common characteristics:
they had strong leadership and support from senior staff
senior staff either took an active role in delivering the programme or had close
oversight of it
schools selected staff carefully to deliver the programme
three of the four primary schools and one intermediate school took a whole school
approach and embedded the programme in the culture and practice of the school
secondary schools strove to maintain a good balance between inclusion and
schools sought to minimise stigma and labelling
See Supplementary Report 3: Questions of interest to the Ministry of Education.
staff shared resources and knowledge
schools set up good systems that increased teacher confidence, improved
consistency of practice and provided clarity for parents, students and staff
all schools kept excellent records and monitored students’ progress and teacher
confidence and practice
schools took a strategic view of the funding they had available and sought to
increase capacity in preparation for the end of EPF18.
See Supplementary Report 1: Magnet schools.
7. Other countries' provisions
The evaluation was asked to provide information on three questions relating to other
countries’ provisions for students with moderate special educational need.
1. What mechanisms have countries used to support the achievement of students
with moderate special education need?
2. Have other countries developed any means by which they can identify schools that
include a disproportionate number of students with moderate special education
3. If so, do they provide support to these schools and in what ways?
The literature was gathered primarily through an internet search, supplemented by material
supplied by GSE, Ministry of Education. Most of the literature is from Australia, Canada,
the United Kingdom and the United States with smaller amounts from other OECD
countries, Hong Kong and Singapore19.
The literature has three significant limitations. Firstly, while the review’s focus is on funding
initiatives for students with moderate special education need, only a small proportion of the
literature specifically discusses such students. Secondly, none of the literature found
during this search refers to schools that include a disproportionate number of students with
special education needs. Finally, a number of countries are reviewing their provision for
students with special education needs.
7.1 IDENTIFYING STUDENTS WITH MODERATE SPECIAL EDUCATION NEEDS
Identifying students with moderate special education need is fraught with difficulty. Most
countries are expanding their definition to include a broader range of students but as yet
there is no agreement about how this should be done. As noted earlier, a recent OECD
report20 proposes categorising students with special education needs under three
disabilities – students with disabilities or impairments
difficulties – students with behavioural or emotional disorders
disadvantages - students with disadvantages arising primarily from socio-
economic, cultural, and/or linguistic factors.
This categorisation has yet to be accepted by the international community.
This review of international literature looked at ways of identifying students with moderate
special education need in Australia, Canada, England, Hong Kong, Canada, Ireland,
Scotland, Wales and the USA. It found that most of these countries use some form of
classification system to identify students and allocate resources but the systems they use
vary. They include codes of practice with set criteria, normative measures, teacher
identification, parent/teacher identification and identification based on the resources
required to meet a student’s educational needs.
7.2 MODELS OF SUPPORT
Countries vary in the way and extent to which they provide for students with disabilities,
learning difficulties and disadvantages. Many are reviewing their support practices.
See Supplementary Report 2: A literature review on international school-based funding initiatives
for students with moderate special education need
OECD 2005 Students with Disabilities, Learning Difficulties and Disadvantages OECD: Paris
Discussion in the literature centres round the nature and benefits of inclusion, models of
funding that follow the individual or go directly to the school, the need for greater
accountability and better monitoring, more extensive professional development and closer
relationships with parents. It is often unclear whether the support mechanisms are only for
those with disabilities, or whether they extend to students with learning difficulties or those
who are otherwise disadvantaged. Very little of the available literature refers specifically to
students with moderate special education need as a separate category.
Mechanisms of support are equally varied but generally include targeted funding for
students who have more severe special education needs. A number of countries are
considering or experimenting with a combination of support mechanisms for other students
with special education needs. These include some form of population based funding, using
indices of disadvantage or population indicators with funding based on needs in individual
schools, based on assessments of student performance.
Schools have more or less flexibility in how funds are spent, but options usually include
specialist teachers, teacher coordinators, teacher aides, special classes within mainstream
schools, lower class sizes, training and development and curriculum adaptation.
7.3 MAGNET SCHOOLS
The concept of magnet schools as schools attracting a disproportionate number of special
education needs students because of the programmes they offer or the skill they have in
catering for such students is not one that appears in the literature.
That does not mean such schools do not exist or that funding authorities do not have
mechanisms for supporting them. It just means that information as not available to enable
this evaluation to address this issue in any meaningful way.
This evaluation is not able to confirm that the EPF has been allocated to schools that have
disproportionately high numbers of students with moderate special education needs.
Multiple policy goals matched with a lack of definition of key concepts such as 'moderate
special education needs' and 'disproportionate' made it impossible to design and manage
an allocation process which gave confidence that funded schools were those with the
highest needs, those with the best programmes, or magnet schools.
The team managing the allocation process was both reflective and responsive to feedback
on the process but was ultimately unable to overcome the problems created by the
confusion around policy intent.
However, the evaluation did find evidence that the very existence of the Fund, and the
application process, raised schools' awareness of students with moderate special
education need and prompted applicant schools to consider the systems, processes and
programmes they needed to meet the needs of those students.
Case studies of funded schools suggest that when EPF reached schools it was spent in
ways that benefited students with moderate special education need, however the school
defined that. Some case study schools gave greater confidence that their commitment to
and efforts with students with moderate special education needs were embedded in the
school systems and culture and would survive the life of their EPF grant.
These schools commonly had school leadership which advocated for students with
moderate special education need and committed resources to meeting their needs.
Schools with this kind of leadership were much more likely to see supporting students with
moderate special education needs as a whole school responsibility and take a whole
school approach. They were more likely to invest in professional development related to
meeting the needs of students with moderate special education needs, and they reaped
the benefits of improved staff capability and increased confidence to discuss problems,
identify solutions and try new initiatives.
There is no substitute for good people. Schools which had a committed staff member,
appropriately resourced, who could help other staff to identify, support and monitor
students with moderate special education needs moved further and faster in supporting
these students. In some schools the contribution of teacher aides, who were used
extensively in EPF programmes, was explicitly acknowledged and they were encouraged
to contribute to programme design and implementation in a way that enriched provision to
Schools with programmes that worked well had a clear understanding of the students they
were targeting and what they wanted to achieve. They identified students using sound
academic, behavioural and where appropriate medical and family records. Once identified,
detailed records were kept on students to measure their progress. Successful schools
were committed to doing more with the data; aggregating student achievement information
to learn about the effectiveness of the programme and whether what had been learned
about working with students with moderate special education need could be transferred to
improve teaching across the school.
Most programmes in case study schools adopted an integrative rather than a fully inclusive
approach. Targeted students were in inclusive settings most of the time but were
withdrawn for varying periods of time for individual or small group teaching. In the most
successful programmes there were well developed links between the withdrawal and
inclusion settings with teachers sharing information and resources as well as adopting
similar teaching and behaviour management strategies.
Finally, some secondary schools had success with adapting curriculum resources to suit
targeted students. These resources, designed initially for students with moderate special
education needs, were soon in demand in mainstream classrooms and used to the benefit
of many more students than originally envisaged.